iPhone 5 with LTE: Customer gets near-50 Mbps download speed

That's five times what most customers seem to get with LTE

LTE wireless data speeds are impressing new iPhone 5 and Android phone customers all across the U.S., but some of the speeds are mind-blowing.

"This is what I got today on iPhone 5 AT&T LTE in NJ," one iPhone 5 user in New Jersey wrote.

One AT&T user of an iPhone 5 in New Jersey reported getting a download speed of 49.84 Mbps, and an upload speed of 21.07 Mbps. The user, Graham Hill, sent Computerworld a screen shot by email showing the results on speedtest.net from earlier Wednesday. He said his location was about 12.5 miles from a server in New York City.

One test on one wireless network location isn't all that meaningful, since Hill could have been the only AT&T customer on LTE for miles around. Distance from a cell tower and the number of users, among other factors, make a difference in network speeds.

Still, Hill's results were about five times faster than what most LTE download speeds have been with U.S.-based LTE carriers, including Verizon Wireless, which is approaching 400 cities with LTE, and Sprint, which is approaching 100 cities by year's end. AT&T has recently added cities, with 72 in all, and is on track to break 100 by the end of the year. AT&T also boasts its HSPA+ network speeds are very fast, and cover the nation.

In general, LTE is offering average speeds that are about 10 times faster than 3G network speeds offered by the carriers.

Hill's results are on par with what a forum user accessing the Rogers Canada networks found on an iPhone 5 last weekend, with 57 Mbps on a download and 25 Mbps on an upload.

The biggest concern for LTE customers is finding an actual LTE cell connection. When the iPhone 5 and other LTE phones on Android don't find an LTE connection, they revert to a 3G network. Some new iPhone 5 users have already seen a slight, sub-second interruption in a video being streamed to the phone's display when this network transition occurs.

With Hill's speeds, there could be a downside, should he or any user decide to stream video at such speeds over a cellular network instead of Wi-Fi. With his fast LTE feeds, Hill could zip through a single 3GB high-definition feature length movie download in eight minutes. That much data costs $30 on an AT&T individual smartphone data plan.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile/wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.

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